Title: We Germans
Author: Alexander Starritt
Pages: 208 Pages
Publisher: John Murray Press
When a young British man asks his German grandfather what it was like to fight on the wrong side of the war, the question is initially met with irritation and silence. But after the old man’s death, a long letter to his grandson is found among his things.
That letter is this book. In it, he relates the experiences of an unlikely few days on the Eastern Front – at a moment when he knows not only that Germany is going to lose the war, but that it deserves to. He writes about his everyday experience amid horror, confusion and great bravery, and he asks himself what responsibility he bears for the circumstances he found himself in. As he tries to find an answer he can live with, we hear from his grandson what kind of man he became in the seventy years after the war.
We Germans is a fundamentally human novel that grapples with the most profound of questions about guilt, shame and responsibility – questions that remain as live today as they have always been.
The Second World War took place a long time ago. Yet, the negative connotations of that war still linger. For some, it happened during their life time but for people like myself who are post war (well I’m Gen X) it is just something that I have never been able to comprehend fully. What I do know is that people who didn’t have anything to do with the war are still feeling the finger of blame being pointed.
In We Germans, Alexander Starritt poses the question of what it must have been like to be on the ‘wrong side’ of war to his German grandfather. It causes upset and subsequently we see what war and life was like for a German soldier. We Germans is a great example of how we put our assumptions upon other peoples’ stories and their histories and assume things without looking at the intricacies that surround it. Yes, to be a German soldier could be seen to be on the wrong side of the war if you fought for the other side. However, if you have been told it is an honour to fight for your country then it all just becomes relative.
What We Germans reminds us is that young soldiers were the real victims. They were sent to the front with very little in the way of food, clothing, life experience and expected to do their duty. We Germans is a book to make the reader realise that there wasn’t much difference between soldiers from Germany and from elsewhere across the world.
We Germans is a fascinating read that takes place across Europe but also across the generations. You really feel like you are travelling the length of the country with the German forces.
We Germans by Alexander Starritt will be available from 06th August 2020.
For more information regarding John Murray Press (@johnmurrays) please visit www.johnmurraypress.co.uk.